Harvey Danger / Little By Little

As noted on Boing Boing, Harvey Danger is releasing their new album, Little By Little, as a free download with a detailed explanation as to why.

I love seeing people doing this, as it fits in with my Paradox: In Giving, You Make Yourself Stronger thoughts I wrote back in 2002. In effect, changing from a pay-based taking economy to a reward-based giving economy. Of course this economic approach won’t work with everything but it’s great to see it in action when it does.

As for the album itself, it started out pretty good and by the end of listening to it, I was thoroughly enjoying it (so much so that I decided to reward them with a contribution of $10). And that’s exactly what it’s all about. If you like what you’re getting from someone (for free) and you want to see more from them in the future then by giving them a reward you’re investing in them and their creative passions to produce more great content.

Seeking The Right Relationship

Wow, it’s seems I’m quite popular this week. I’ve been reposting my resume on the Vancouver Craigslist site over the past month or so (usually every other week) and this week I seem to have drawn a lot of attention, as I’m even getting contacted for possible work in Victoria with a substantial salary boost if I’d consider the move (which unfortunately I wouldn’t at this time).

Anyways, as I mentioned to a few people who’ve interviewed me already, I’m not in any rush (since I have a few great established clients right now). If anything I think it’s like finding the right mate because you want the relationship to work and be long lasting. It’s one reason why I tried to be very specific in my cover letter as to the type of company I’m looking for and hopefully it will achieve exactly that. 🙂

Update: I just realized that my previous post about Finding Meaningful Relationships relates quite closely to this, especially the last paragraph.

Hehe, wait a minute. I just noticed something both funny and interesting. Go back up and look at that Six Apart office picture once again. Noticed how I’ve highlighted the sheets of paper on the wall and dimmed out everything else in the room? Well reverse it now so that the people in the room become highlighted and are the focal point. What do you see? I see a group of seemingly random and diverse people all grouped together in a meaningful relationship working on something of emotional importance to them.

That to me is exactly the type of working environment I’d like to be within. It’s not so much about how much money I’m making but more about the emotional importance of the work I’m doing and the meaningful relationships it creates with the people I’m working with, as well as the people we are helping.

Digital Ecosystems

I was reading some news about Firefox this morning and I noticed Mike Shaver’s title at Mozilla. He’s Director of Ecosystem Development.

This is extremely exciting to see for me. You see a while back, I wrote something that I entitled Paradox: In Giving You Make Yourself Stronger. When I shared this with David Weinberger, he liked the premise of what I was trying to get across but he disagreed with one of my statements, that being “Is the Web like a body or organism?”.

I understand why. I mean the Web is made up of wires and networking (or is it tubes or laned highways, hehe, I can never remember). Therefore, no this hardware obviously can’t be alive on it’s own. It just wires. But that’s just it though. The Web isn’t just hardware. We ourselves are what make the Web like an organism because we ourselves are organisms. Therefore the Web is like an ecosystem because of us, not because of its hardware and wires.

That’s why when I learned about permaculture, particularly Dan Earle and Sue Hutchins site on A Permaculture Primer and later David Holmgren’s book Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I realized I was on to something. It just seemed like the more I read about permaculture and how it relates to ecosystems, the more I realized I was reading about something that relates to the Web as well. I mean there were some quotes relating to permaculture, that I had to stop and say “Am I reading about permaculture here or the Web?”. The following quote, for example, could have easily been within a book on best web design practices.

Aggregating design elements will bring varied activities together to share space, reinforce each other and eliminate…trips from one area to another. We are always searching for connections between parts of systems and between seemingly disparate systems to establish appropriate relationships in our design.

Anyways, it’s just nice to see more and more people over the past few years recognizing the fact that the Web is an ecosystem. That’s one reason why whenever someone asks about resources on online community development today, I always recommend David Holmgren’s book because there are so many principles within it than can be carried over (or translated I guess you could say) for the Web.

And finally in closing, below are the original entries I wrote about permaculture when I first learned about it (with the earliest post at the top).

Where’s The Structure?

I think I know how Jeffrey Veen felt when he wrote his frustrations about open source software back in October 2004. In similar tones to Wendy’s famous commercial where they said "Where’s the beef?", I’d now like to know "Where’s the structure?" The structure in what? In blogging and content management software today.

You see I’ve been looking for an open source solution for Squarespace for some time now but I’ve yet to be successful at finding anything remotely like it. I’ve now just realized one very important thing that Squarespace has, that no other software I’ve researched (i.e. WordPress, Textpattern, Drupal, etc) has in comparison. A structural interface area.

I mean when most developers build a website, one of the first things they usually ask for is a site map, so they can see the various content areas you’ll have within your site. One of the key reasons why Squarespace has such rapid site development is that you can then take that site map and quickly recreate a similar structure of it using the Structure & Style > Architecture area of your Squarespace site. Of course it doesn’t look exactly like a site map when you view it in this area (which would be amazing if it did, say something similar to how NetObjects Fusion used to create site maps) but it still allows you to quickly recreate the structure very easily nonetheless.

In effect, think of the Squarespace Architecture area somewhat similar to the outline feature of Microsoft Word. It allows you to quickly create an outline of your site that you fill in later. This is exactly what I want because it’s exactly the steps I take in building a site. I plan what I want the site to be about, I define it’s structure, give it a design style, and then fill in the content. Yet most other blogging or content management software don’t seem to follow this same process flow.

Why is this the case? Is it because no other solution takes a modular approach to site creation like Squarespace and thus can’t emulate a structure without modules? Or is there some blogging or content management software out there today, that I’m not aware of, that does allow you to visually define the structural outline of your site first, just as easily as it can be done in Squarespace? If anyone knows, definitely let me know.

Update: It appears that TYPO3 may have what I’m looking for. It’s definitely not as elegant as Squarespace but it does look like it has some of the same functionality. For example, it’s Navigation Pane area looks somewhat similar to Squarespace’s Architecture area, so you can quickly structure your site on the fly. It also has some other features that I’ve been looking for as well, such as a Mail Form Wizard which allows you to add additional custom fields to a form. Of course, how TYPO3 works will really be the test (which I’ll need to setup a test site for it to be sure). I’ve seen a ton of apps that sound great from a feature standpoint but when testing them their functionality is always lacking. Hopefully TYPO3 will fare better than the rest.

Update: Plone is another CMS that, while not having an architecture-like page similar to Squarespace, makes it easy to structure your site by the use of the age old folder approach. So if you want to create a new section off your home page called "About Us", you just add a new folder called "About Us" and then start adding "page documents" within it to fill it. It still doesn’t seem as simple as Squarespace though.

And Exponent CMS is one more CMS that is actually very similar to Squarespace’s modular content approach (so much so that I wish Squarespace took some hints from it). The downside is that it’s still in beta (although nearing version 1.0) and a lot of it’s documentation still has to be written. Still, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this CMS as it develops.

Fixing My Brain

The song Fixing My Brain by Brad Sucks has a great chorus within it.

I’m thinking about fixing my brain
but I’m afraid I won’t feel the same.

When I heard it for the first time, it immediately reminded me of my own personal struggles in maintaining my beliefs and identity as a person. You see every day we are bombarded by so many external influences and distractions, something that Doris Lessing wrote about in her book entitled Prisons We Choose To Live Inside. It is these external influences that tempt and taunt us into believing we should take certain directions in our lives, when in fact we are often being lead astray like sailors drawn to a sirens call.

It is these temptations and taunts that will lead you into believing that there is something “wrong” with you and in purchasing something or pursuing a path, your life will be whole and perfect again. In reality, there is nothing wrong with you and you don’t need “fixing”. Instead it is these external influences and environments created around you that are actually the problem. The Tribes Learning Communities approach to schooling, that I discovered a while back, realized this same very thing.

My deep conviction after a lifetime of work in education, youth development and systems change is that rather than focusing on “fixing kids” we need to fix the environments that impact their lives every day. Six or more hours in school each day in a strong and caring community culture are enough to help children discover a love of learning, self and social responsibility for their lives.

Therefore don’t feel like you need fixing to fit into an environment. Because if you do, you might not like who you are afterwards. Instead seek environments that naturally accept you for who you are, letting your uniqueness flourish within it.